It has been widely believed so far that links from a .edu domain are worth more in Google’s eyes than links from .com, .net and .org etc. domains. However, John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst from Google Europe indicated that this might not actually be the case.
Responding to a post on the Google Webmaster Help forum, John Mueller stated, “In general, I would like to add that no, backlinks from .EDU domains generally do not get additional credibility from Google.”
SEO professionals starting paying more attention to links from .edu and .gov domains after Google’s update nicknamed Jagger, where reciprocal links were devalued and more importance was paid to links from sites having greater authority. Educational institutions are usually very choosy about whom they agree to link with. Websites of well known colleges and universities also typically have higher PageRank. The conclusion that such a link would be more valuable is therefore not really far-fetched.
A link from a .edu or .gov site is neither easily available free of cost nor through payment. These websites link only to extremely relevant and trustworthy sites or other equally popular sites. Immaterial of whether the domain extension of such a site is .edu or .com, it fits the bill for a good quality, desirable site to get a link from.
Back in April 2006, a post on High Rankings Forum asked whether there was any evidence that having inbound .edu and .gov links was “better” and counted more than other links, to which forum moderator Jill Whalen answered with a simple “no”. It would seem though that Jill may have been in a minority here as many SEOs voiced their belief in the SEO goodness of .edu and .gov links on a post at SEO Roundtable.
There is no absolute proof that search engines do or do not consider .edu links to be more valuable. Even Google’s, John Mueller does not categorically deny the value of a .edu domain. All he says is that they “generally” do not get more credibility from Google. This does not mean that link from respectable universities such as Harvard, Stanford and Yale will not count for more. Though, the fact rests that there are a lot more good attributes associated with all of those university websites than just their .edu extension.